Federal HOME program is critical to Vermonters

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau

Recent cuts to the federal HOME program hurt local families as well as the communities in which they live. In a recent publication from the U.S. Housing Assistance Council, Senator Patrick Leahy and other policy makers describe the program's far-reaching successes and the importance of strengthening, rather than shrinking, its reach as the nation's largest affordable housing block grant program.

Matt and Megan Rink and their family in Windham County, Vermont, exemplify the households  who benefit from this program, Leahy writes. 

"Matt grew up in Brattleboro... he worked three jobs, including managing his own small business in his hometown. Megan was a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) providing in-home care for patients. Like so many young Americans trying to cope during these trying economic times, Matt and Megan and their two boys were living in one of their parents' homes. They were priced out of Vermont's tight rental market, they lacked a firm rental history, and they simply could not scrape together a sufficient security deposit.

Then the HOME program came to their rescue.  A newly developed rental apartment became available, built in part using a HOME grant, administered by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, at a development called Homestead Place. Matt and Megan moved their family into the apartment, giving the family their own home. The affordable rent of the apartment also opened new opportunities to the family. Megan went back to school to get her Registered Nurse (RN) degree. Matt and Megan have been able to get their footing and recently moved out of the subsidized apartment into the private rental market, where they found a larger home for their family.

Without the HOME program, that apartment would not have been available. Megan might never have found the money or the time to go back to school. The increased earnings she would make as an RN might never have been realized. And a stable home environment for their children might have been unattainable for years to come."

Pictured:  Buildings in the 15-unit Homestead Place development.  In addition to HOME funds, acquiring and renovating the three buildings in which the apartments are located was supported with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and a pre-development loan from VHFA.